Can regular physical activity improve my mental health? 

Absolutely! While the physical health benefits of regular physical activity are pretty well known (including reduced risk of cancers), you may not know that regular physical activity also has significant benefits for mental health.

There is a large amount of evidence to support the positive effects of exercise training, including aerobic exercises, resistance exercises, yoga, and Pilates training to improve anxiety, worry, depression, fatigue, sleep, pain, and cognitive abilities. 

What are the recommended levels of physical activity to maintain and improve health? 

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity or an equivalent combination per week for physical and mental health benefits. In addition, the WHO and the American College of Sports Medicine recommends engaging in at least two days of two sets of 8-12 repetitions each of muscle strengthening exercises that target the major muscle groups, including legs, chest, back, shoulders and arms

What does that mean in practice? 

Adults should accumulate 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity weekly and engage in moderate intensity muscle strengthening exercises at least two days per week. Moderate intensity aerobic exercises, like walking, jogging, running, and cycling, normally causes you to breathe harder than normal but you are still able to talk, and feels like a medium amount of effort. For resistance exercise, two sets of 8-12 repetitions should be completed on each exercise at an intensity that can only be completed for 8 to 12 repetitions with correct technique/form.

How can I achieve recommended levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity? 

An adult can achieve 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week by:

  • Walking at about 5 kilometres per hour (km/h) for 180 minutes (approximately 14.5 km).
  • Walking faster at about 6.5 km/h for 120 minutes (approximately 13 km).
  • Jogging or running at about 10km/h for about 60 minutes/week (approximately 10 km).

On campus that means.... 

  • PESS Building to Pavilion (1.3km, 12mins) and back three days a week
  • Start at Foundation Building – past ERB building and Millstream – then over the Living Bridge – path down past Thomond Student Village – over the University Bridge – through Dromroe Village, pass Ciaran’s Restaurant – over the footbridge and through car park – back to Foundation Building. (1.8kms, 18mins) four days a week
  • Start at Main University Building – down to Student Centre – along road down past Arena – down to the East Gate Entrance – turn right – walk along main road there – down to Main University Entrance – turn right into the entrance – walk along path – turn left at the roundabout – pass Schuman Building on your right – pedestrian crossing – turn right and walk straight back towards Main Building. (2.4kms, 25mins) three days a week.

If you are at risk / suicidal please immediately contact either the crisis liaison mental health team at the University Hospital Limerick (061 301111) or your local hospital, or your GP immediately. 

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